Through three games, these NBA Finals have been the best of recent memory. We’ve seen three back and forth games featuring the best two players in basketball today (LeBron James and Kevin Durant). The Finals haven’t been without controversy though, as the officiating has been suspect on several occasions. But overall, this series has the potential to go down as one of the greatest series in history.
Now onto Game 4 in Miami. This game is much more important to the Oklahoma City Thunder than it is to the Miami Heat. If the Heat win, they’ll hold a 3-1 edge in series, and would only have to win one of three games in order to clinch the Larry O’Brien trophy. For the Thunder that would be disastrous, as the only 4.3% of teams all time have come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals. But when a series is tied 2-2, history shows that the series is up for grabs, and is likely to go seven games Game 5 is also important because if the NBA Finals 2-3-2 format. The Thunder don’t have the luxury of being able to go back to Oklahoma City and regroup if they lose to Miami tonight. They’re future is dependent on what they do in Miami, and I think this game is the one they have to have.
There are some positive factors working in the favor of the Thunder. For one, Russell Westbrook played magnificent in Game 3, as did Durant. They also got off to a fast start in Game 3, something they hadn’t done all series. What the Thunder need to change is the absence of James Harden’s scoring, having Durant in foul trouble, and not having a dependable fourth scoring threat to counteract the Heat’s suddenly potent Shane Battier. If these problems are corrected, the Thunder should be favored. If not, it’s Miami’s game to lose.
I like the Thunder in this game. I’ve predicted them to win the previous two games, and I’ve been wrong, but I just can’t see them losing three straight. I can’t see Durant getting in bad foul trouble again, and I can’t see Harden shooting 20% fro m the field again. Look for either Derek Fischer or Serge Ibaka to step up for the Thunder, and score 12-15 points. I expect this game to come down to wire, feature a duel between James and Durant, and go down as the best game in series. Give me the Thunder 93, Heat 92.